Bienvenidos a Miami: The city where the heat is on!
On our way to Chile, Shane planned the flights so that it forced us to spend a 48 hour layover in, of all places, Miami. Oh darn, twist my arm into going...just kidding, the trip couldn't come soon enough! A sun filled, party hard vacation destination, Miami certainly draws in a diverse, eclectic crowd, (we all know Will Smith is a fan). We packed our skimpiest swimsuits and were ready to mingle among the tan and surgically enhanced.
During our stay, we rented an Airbnb down in South Beach on 8th and Pennsylvania Ave which was a more rowdy part of town. While it was great during the day since it was so close to the beach, sleeping was nearly impossible because the walls were very thin and at night the streets were filled with loud drunken shenanigans. If we were to do it all over again we would have stayed here: Freehand Miami, a hip, trendy hostel catering that is a little more removed from the South Beach's club scene. If Freehand isn't for you, I would still suggest you check it out for their happy hour. Grab a cocktail and lounge in their hidden oasis of a courtyard with the rest of the tan, stylish, and beautiful people of Miami. Another solid spot for happy hour: Sweet Liberty. Enjoy cheap oysters and beer in a very eclectic, relaxing atmosphere.
When it comes to where to eat in Miami, the choices are endless. There are so many options but within our 48 hours there, we were able to squeeze in a few tasty places. To start your day, I would highly suggest stopping by Las Olas Cafe in South Beach. It's a popular, little, hole in the wall spot that serves some of the best empanadas I've ever had. Choose from a selection of beef, chicken, spinach, ham or cheese. Next must have item, one of their cortaditos, which is like a Cuban espresso aka jet fuel (after two of these I felt like I was ready to run a marathon).
When it comes to taco joints, I'm very particular, but I was pleasantly surprised with the taco spot found in the Wynwood area - Coyo Taco. A small building where you can eat some delicious tacos by day and at night the back room becomes a speakeasy. Next door to Coyo Taco is Panther Coffee, a popular spot where they specialize in small batch roasting of coffee beans. Down a cup of joe and prepare yourself for your next meal back in South Beach at La Sandwhicherie. Their location on 14th street is just a walk up window where you can order some of their French inspired sandwiches. Fresh ingredients on toasted baguettes or croissants with their infamous vinaigrette... your tastebuds will thank you later. Lastly, after a day of laying on the beach surrounded by people with flat abs, I'm sure you're craving something cheesy and carb-o-licious. Look no further than Pizza Bar. Their pizza slices might be expensive but they are HUGE, so you will definitely get your money's worth.
Besides the sprawling beaches, what are some other to-do things in Miami (especially if you get rained out for most of your trip)? Our suggestion is to go check out the contemporary art museum PAMM (Perez Art Museum Miami). Featuring pieces by artists from the 20th and 21st century, the building itself is quite impressive. Hanging gardens descend from the ceilings while you lounge on their deck and watch huge cruise ships sail by in the bay. Another option is to check out the Wynwood Walls. Free to the public, it is an outdoor destination featuring colorful street murals. Wander around the many streets and alleyways with your Panther Coffee and admire works by artists from around the globe.
On our last day in Miami we had the whole day to kill before our flight but had to be out of our Airbnb by 11AM. Our solution: a pool day at the iconic, mid-century modern, Raleigh Hotel pool. You can purchase day passes at most hotels (price varying) that allow you pool or beach access among other amenities. A handy way to find the best deal for you is by the phone app Day Pass. The Raleigh Hotel grants you a day pass at their pool as long as you open a bar/food tab with a $30 min. Done and done. We spent the whole day lounging by the pool drinking pina coladas.
All in all, it was a fun-filled weekend that, surprisingly, didn't break the bank! Good food, great art, and a world-class beach... we are definitely looking forward to our next trip to Miami.